BJP eyes hat-trick as Congress mounts challenge in Udhampur and Jammu


Jammu: The BJP has gone full-throttle with a high-voltage campaign, while the Congress seems to have adopted a subdued approach as the parties gear up for a three-cornered contest — scheduled on April 19 and 26 — in the Udhampur and Jammu constituencies.
In both the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the ruling BJP secured the Udhampur and Jammu seats with Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh and Jugal Kishore emerging triumphant, respectively.
Now, seeking a hat-trick of wins in the two constituencies, the saffron party is vigorously working to fortify its support base. It, however, faces stiff competition from the Congress, which has nominated two-time MP Lal Singh in Udhampur and its working president Raman Bhalla in Jammu.
Campaigning for the first phase draws to a close on Wednesday.
The BJP’s campaign in Jammu and Kashmir included rallies by top party leaders, such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Minister Amit Shah, Union Minister Anurag Thakur, and senior leader Syed Shahnawaz Hussain.
In contrast, the Congress had only former deputy chief minister of Rajasthan Sachin Pilot and actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar addressing two rallies in the region since the announcement of the polls.
The BJP is banking on the ‘Modi factor’ and its promises delivered, including the abrogation of Article 370, the passage of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) Bill, and the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, along with various welfare schemes and infrastructure projects, to bolster its narrative of development.
Modi, while campaigning for Dr Jitendra Singh in Udhampur on April 12, said that assembly elections will be soon held in Jammu and Kashmir and the statehood will be restored.
The Congress, on the other hand, is focusing on the issues of unemployment and safeguarding secularism besides restoration of statehood.
The grand old party is being backed by the National Conference (NC) with former chief ministers of the erstwhile-state of Jammu and Kashmir Dr Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah campaigning for the INDIA bloc candidates Lal Singh in Udhampur and Raman Bhalla in Jammu.
“Your vote will have a bearing for the next five years, so you have to choose wisely. Don’t allow votes to get divided,” Omar had said in Doda.
Pilot, who campaigned for Congress candidates in R S Pura and Kathua on April 16, criticised the saffron party for allegedly destroying the state, saying, “Under the rule of the Lieutenant Governor, outsiders are encroaching on lands. Lands that are being cultivated are being snatched from the people and given to outsiders.” Lal Singh is expected to give a tough battle to BJP’s candidate and Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh in the Udhampur Lok Sabha constituency, which was once a Congress bastion.
His campaign has focused on the “identity” of J&K, which he alleges has been eroded by the BJP government at the Centre. He has been vocal in attacking the Modi government, accusing it of “destroying J&K during its 10 years of misrule.” Lal Singh was elected as MP from the Udhampur Lok Sabha seat in 2009 and 2004 on a Congress ticket. He was also elected to the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly as an MLA in 1996, 2002, and 2015, and served as the Minister in the PDP-Congress and PDP-BJP governments.
“It is a tough battle for the Union Minister this time, considering the popularity of Congress candidate Lal Singh among voters in the constituency. He is also backed by the National Conference as an alliance candidate of the INDIA bloc,” political analyst Dr Tej Krishen said.
The Democratic Progressive Azad Party chief Ghulam Nabi Azad is campaigning for his party candidate and former minister G M Saroori, who is contesting from Udhampur. Azad has been criticising regional political parties like the NC, Congress and PDP.

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